After spending two days in Sychar (where Jesus met the woman at the well) Jesus and His disciples continued journeying to the region of Galilee. When they arrived, Jesus preached in many places, telling people to repent and believe the good news. He often taught on Saturdays, the Sabbath day of the Jews, in their small church buildings, called synagogues.
One of the places Jesus visited in Galilee was Nazareth, the town in which He had grown up. Because He never sinned, Jesus probably had a good reputation there. However, when He had lived among them, none of His friends or acquaintances realized He was God’s Son. He had never told them who He was or worked any miracles. To the people of Nazareth, Jesus was just a good man, a carpenter by trade, one of the five sons of Mary and Joseph (see Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). Since they had last seen Him, however, He had received the power of the Holy Spirit, and they had heard He was performing miracles in other parts of Galilee. Now it was time for Jesus to tell them who He was, and so He joined the people of Nazareth at their synagogue one Saturday.
On this occasion, Jesus was given the scroll of the book of Isaiah to read before the congregation. He opened it to some verses that described the Messiah’s ministry, hoping they would realize that He was the one of whom Isaiah had written. The word messiah means “anointed one,” and the portion of Isaiah’s prophecy from which Jesus read, spoke of a person who would be anointed by God’s Spirit to preach, deliver and heal. That is exactly what Jesus had been doing. In fact, the first thing the people of Nazareth noticed was Jesus’ ability to speak. They were all “amazed by the gracious words that fell from his lips” (Luke 4:22).
Even though the people of Nazareth had heard the report of His miracles in other towns, most of them refused to believe that one of their hometown boys was the anointed person Isaiah had predicted would come. They wanted to see some miracles right before their eyes before they would believe in Him. Their hearts were hard, and Jesus responded to their unbelief by saying that prophets are usually not received in their hometowns.
Even though Jesus wasn’t surprised by their unbelief, He was saddened by it, because He knew it would hinder God’s work in their midst. Then He cited two other prophets who weren’t received by their own people, and as a result, those people missed out on blessings that other people, even foreigners, enjoyed. Once during the time of Elijah the prophet, there was a three-and-one-half year famine in Israel. Jesus said that there were many Israelite widows who suffered during that famine, but God sent Elijah only to a foreign widow to provide food supernaturally for her. And during the time of the prophet Elisha, there were many Israelites who needed to be healed of leprosy, but God used Elisha to heal only one leper, and he also was a foreigner.
Jesus’ message to the people of Nazareth was clear: because they rejected Him, an anointed man of God and the Messiah, they would forfeit God’s blessing, just like the Israelites of Elijah and Elisha’s day. When the people in the synagogue realized what Jesus was saying, their mood quickly changed. At the beginning of His sermon, “all who were there spoke well of him” (Luke 4:22). By the end of His sermon, they wanted to kill Him, revealing the wickedness within their hearts. As they often do, desires turned into deeds, and they attempted to kill Him by throwing Him over a cliff. Jesus, however, was somehow supernaturally delivered. Perhaps God the Father made Him temporarily invisible! Wouldn’t that be fun if God did that to you?
Q. According to the Bible, Jesus had four younger brothers and at least two younger sisters. He knows what it is like to live as part of a family. What kind of an older brother do you think Jesus was?
A. He was the perfect older brother! That means He always thought first of His younger brothers and sisters before thinking of Himself. He assisted them whenever they needed His help and shared with them what was His. Because Jesus lives in you by the Holy Spirit, you have the potential to be the kind of brother (or sister) that Jesus was as He grew up.
Q. Just as the people who knew Jesus before He was anointed by the Holy Spirit found it difficult to believe that He was the Messiah, often the people who knew us before we were born again by God’s Spirit have a difficult time believing that we’ve been changed. What is the best way to convince them that you’re not the person they knew before?
A. By our daily lives. As they listen to us and observe our actions, they’ll see that we’ve changed. Then they’ll be more open to hearing the good news about Jesus.
Application: People who reject Jesus reject God’s blessings. Because we believe in Jesus, God is going to bless us forever!